In 1855, sugar magnate John Hampden Randolph began planning a grand family home near the banks of the Mississippi. He purchased more than 1,000 acres of land and commissioned esteemed architect Henry Howard to design the house. Howard envisioned a grand Greek revival and Italianate-style home with towering ceilings, 11-foot doors, multilevel terraces, stately pillars, and showerheads that gushed extra-virgin olive oil. Although the final mansion’s three-story height and 64 rooms are its most impressive attributes, its arcing stairways, ironwork details, and crisp white paint are its most majestic.
Soon after the home's completion, the Civil War began, and the peaceful family sanctuary gathered a rich but troublesome history, much like a country pony on his first trip to the big city. Despite changing owners and losing acreage, the home survived. Years later, a multimillion-dollar renovation project restored the mansion to its peak condition and added modern resort amenities. Once again, the mansion serves as a graceful venue for weddings and meetings, and even houses overnight visitors in 40 hotel rooms. Historical experts remain on hand, leading guided tours to help preserve the memory of the home's past.
Roberto's River Road Restaurant is a Cajun restaurant that features fresh dishes bursting with flavor.
Life is all about choices, and they are not limited here with plenty of gluten-free and low-fat dishes.
Ready for a drink to unwind? At this restaurant, you can pair your meal with something from their full bar.
Roberto's River Road Restaurant has a large dining room, making it easy to seat large parties.
Roberto's River Road Restaurant is a casual spot to dine, so don't worry about being underdressed.
Meeting the gang for a movie? Pick up some food from this restaurant.
It's time to gather up the party people. Serve them great food from Roberto's River Road Restaurant.
For easy dining, Roberto's River Road Restaurant provides convenient parking in a connecting lot.
Roberto's River Road Restaurant offers safe bike parking outside.
Prices are reasonable, with a typical meal running under $30.
Major credit cards are accepted, so you can save yourself a trip to the ATM.
Convenience is essential at Roberto's River Road Restaurant, and food is served from morning until night.
For Cajun food that is filled with flavor and spice, look no further than the highly-rated Roberto's River Road Restaurant.
The premier destination for appetizing seafood, Fat Daddy's in Plaquemine is one of the area's highest-rated restaurants. It's an ideal choice for customers that want terrific service and awesome food.
No specific attire is required, so feel free to dress casually and comfortably. Also, though the prices are considered to be lower than average, you aren't going to sacrifice any quality. In fact, you should be able to enjoy a good meal for $11 or $12, and can probably get in and out for $8 if you try.
If you're on the lookout for the perfect spot for family or friends, it's been reviewed as a solid option for large groups and kids. In addition to its quick service (take-out is available), the restaurant also offers delivery, and can even cater an event for you. Or, if you just want to stop by for a beverage, the restaurant has a good selection at its bar.
Specializing in lunch, you won't walk away from Fat Daddy's disappointed. Don't worry about trying to find a spot on the street, as visitors to the restaurant do have access to a private parking lot nearby.
For premier pizza in Plaquemine's Plaquemine area, head to Uncle Johnny's.
Be sure to complete your meal at this pizzeria with a drink from the pizzeria's full bar.
Your large group can all sit together at Uncle Johnny's.
Sunny day plus appetite equals the perfect time to head to Uncle Johnny's.
Wear what you like when you dine at Uncle Johnny's — the restaurant has a chill vibe just right for casual dining.
Bring the Uncle Johnny's' great food to your place.
Uncle Johnny's provides easy access to an adjacent lot.
Prices at Uncle Johnny's typically stay below the $30 mark, so you can afford to bring along a friend or a date.
Save the cash for another day and pay by major credit card at Uncle Johnny's.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at Uncle Johnny's, so come by whenever it fits your schedule.
So next time you want to spend some time with your favorite people, why not top the experience off with a pizza pie or two from Uncle Johnny's?
Guidry's in Plaquemine is a well-known southern restaurant, offering a relaxed atmosphere with superb seafood. It's a culinary destination for those that want terrific food.
There's no particular required attire, so feel free to dress comfortably.
There really is something for every taste, with gluten-free options, as well as healthy, low-fat, and vegetarian items on the menu. Plus, if you're searching for the perfect spot for a family gathering (or a birthday meal), it's rated as a nice local option for big groups and families with children. If you just feel like stopping by for a beverage, the restaurant has helpful bar staff (and a good selection behind the bar).
A good option for lunch in Plaquemine, Guidry's Restaurant definitely won't leave you disappointed. Visitors to the restaurant have the ability to park nearby on the street. Prefer to pedal there? Bike parking is also offered.
One of the better-priced restaurants in Brusly, customers of Pizza Hut won't sacrifice their wallet for a good meal and pleasant experience. Stop by for the great quality and stay for helpful service. You'll be planning your next trip to Pizza Hut before you know it.
Streetwear attire is acceptable, so feel free to come as you are. Also, though the prices may be low, you can bank on the ingredients being fresh.
With several vegetarian items on the menu, there really is something for every preference and most local parents will tell you that it's a good place to bring the kids, as well. If you don't feel like eating in, you can always grab your food to go, or just place an order for delivery.
One of the better pizza chains in the area, this particular Pizza Hut is definitely the place to gather 'round the good stuff.
Siu mai: small pork dumplings. Each has a thin wrapper that needs to be delicately pleated by hand. Easily, they’re one of the most labor-intensive items at Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago, where each weekend this Chinese restaurant serves 80 different varieties of classic dim sum snacks.
This little fact about the siu mai is one of many surprising stories I learn from Eddy, the chef at Phoenix, where he also handles a million other tasks to keep the restaurant running smoothly. When I first came in, he was waving at a group of regulars while on the phone haggling with a seafood vendor.
“What we are serving in this restaurant is what we are eating in Hong Kong. ... It’s very typical,” Eddy says.
In 1996, Phoenix was one of the first restaurants to introduce dim sum to Chicago. Its customer base has grown over the years, and today, even with other dim sum restaurants up and down the block, you’ll find long lines winding out the door on any given Sunday.
Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be.
Here's our guide to dim-sum dining, with a few tips from Eddy.
On the weekend: order dim sum off a cart
On weekends and special holidays, the wait staff winds traditional dim sum carts around tables, lifting lids off stacked steamer baskets to reveal the enticing contents. Should you see something you like, they leave the basket on your table and put a checkmark on your bill (it’s tallied at the end).
Phoenix is one of the only dim-sum restaurants in Chicago that still uses these carts. When I ask Eddy why they keep them, he says “tradition.” Not only to impress the tourists who come in, but also to let Chinese-American customers share this bit of culture with their kids.
Hot tip: if you want to experience the pushcarts without the crowds, head over on a Saturday, which tends to be less busy than Sundays, Eddy says.
On a weekday: order dim sum off the menu
Cartless weekdays offer a quiet, more peaceful atmosphere for ordering off the paper menu, which you can find near the hostess stand. Don't be intimidated—the menu has pictures; it has numbers; it has names written in both Chinese and English. And best of all, you need only point to what you want to have it brought out from the kitchen.
So what should you get?
“Everyone has their favorites,” Eddy says. The most popular dishes with Westerners are ha gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings mentioned above). Kids gravitate toward the crunchy, easy-to-grip shrimp rolls and sweeter fare, from mango pudding (pictured above) to custard rolls.
Foreign travelers, especially those from Latin America, and adventurous eaters alike seem to love the chicken feet (pictured at bottom-right of top photo), a more exotic dish consisting of skin and tendons. While all these dishes are traditional, the chefs can tweak the recipes to accommodate for special diets or food allergies.
When diners are new to dim sum, Eddy encourages them to experiment. He’ll point out a few of the more popular dishes; if there’s something they don’t end up liking, it can easily be swapped out for something else. This way, by the second or third visit, diners will have a better idea of what they like.
And don't forget the tea
At dim sum, the tea is equally important to the food. Phoenix serves three different types: green tea, white tea, and brown tea. “Each one has its own usage,” Eddy says. While we talk, we drink jasmine tea, which is good for getting rid of toxins.
You can show your dim sum know-how by obeying proper tea etiquette. When your teapot is out of water, prop the lid off to the side. This signals to the wait staff that you need more hot water.
Eddy pours more tea and tells me to tap my fingers lightly against the table when the cup is nearly full. “When your friend or host fills your tea, this means ‘thank you’,” he says. “It’s part of the custom.”
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Elizabeth, the Michelin Star winner from Chef Iliana Regan. But an unmarked, unremarkable storefront between a tire shop and a sporting-goods store certainly wasn’t it. With few exceptions (Schwa, most notably), Chicago’s upper-echelon restaurants boast exteriors that match their illustrious River North and Restaurant Row addresses.
But as it turns out, Regan has no taste for that sort of superficial flash. She dons no chef’s whites. She displays no awards. She does not raise her voice to the Gordon Ramsay–level roar or even the Rachael Ray-ish rollick that TV cameras eat up.
Instead, this northwest Indiana native quietly built her reputation as someone who hunts for frogs and spears them herself. Someone who has suffered tick bites and poison-ivy rashes foraging for wild flora. Someone who has penned an essay on intensity for Lucky Peach and once themed an Elizabeth tasting menu after those violent and visceral A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
So yeah, I was kinda terrified to eat her food.
I’d never done a tasting menu before. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a picky eater, but I’m not a particularly adventurous one either, particularly when it comes to meat. (I can barely look at plated octopus without shivering.) I’d heard that Regan once served edible ants. Which are, like, bugs.
My nerves were calmed upon walking into Elizabeth, though. Austere yet charming, the whitewashed space was accented by light fixtures made from bare tree branches; dining chairs draped with faux-fur slipcovers; a chef’s counter armed with Elder Scrolls and Vikings Funko Pop! dolls. It was all in support of the season’s menu theme: vikings.
There were two options: land or sea. Or, as the first in a delightful succession of servers explained it, “Imagine a viking ship has reached the shore. One group goes on land to look for food, the other into the sea.” My friend Erin and I opted to order one of each to share and, despite my trepidation of certain meats, placed no restrictions on what we would eat. (You can arrange for some allergies and dietary needs in advance.) We wanted to go all in.
After the amuse-bouche—a surprisingly complex roasted whey carrot dressed with goat’s-milk cheese and edible flowers—came our first courses. The land dish was … a bowl of rocks. The server assured me the top “rock” was actually a baked potato coated in edible clay. But it was very convincing as a rock, so I bit in with trepidation. As Erin ate the rest, dipping it into the cheese and butter puddings it was served with, I forked into her langoustine with lingonberries. (Pro tip: don’t try to tear off the claw without looking. You will stab your finger on a spine.) So far, so very good.
As the servers continued to weave their culinary narrative, I realized there was an unmentioned character in their tale—Elizabeth itself. The restaurant is small, seating about 16 or so, and the kitchen is wide open. It was impossible not to get caught up in what was happening back there, particularly when sous chefs were wielding brûlée torches and “plating” on gorgeous pieces of handmade pottery. And the line between front and back of house was practically nonexistent. One moment, you’d see someone in the kitchen stirring and slicing; the next they’d be presenting your next course or clearing your table. (Chef Regan included.)
This created an unexpected intimacy, one that removed any hesitation when asking about a particular dish. It’s clear the teammates take a deep yet quiet pride in their collective work. They spoke warmly about where ingredients came from, excitedly about the preparation techniques used. They always used “we” or “our,” never “me” or “Chef Regan.” (Again, Chef Regan included.)
Over the next few courses, there were so many charms. An herb-rolled, soft-boiled quail egg served in an actual nest; impossibly chewy seaweed bread darkened by squid ink; a cauliflower-mushroom soup that Erin about died over. I was particularly fond of a course called Barnyard: headcheese dusted with beet powder, paired with a collage of root vegetables and flavored puddings reminiscent of something out of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.
And that’s the thing. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be fond of headcheese. I would have probably never eaten it if it weren’t for this meal. But it was fun to break out of my culinary comfort zone.
The other surprising thing? How full we were, considering it was a tasting menu. By the time we were served the entree courses—rare lamb medallions wrapped in swiss chard and pickled fish in a sauce of its own bones—we were taking deep breaths between bites. I’m pretty sure they were the only two plates we didn’t completely clean.
We managed to buck up for our “one-and-a-half” dessert courses, as the server put it. (The “half” was a palate-cleansing sorbet.) Our favorite was Under the Sea, a spongy coral-seaweed cake so realistic looking it prompted me to ask the server just how much of it we could eat. “All of it,” she said. We complied.
Maybe, as a writer, I’m just a sucker for a good story. But I was enchanted by Elizabeth, both in backstory and in not knowing what was coming next throughout the culinary adventure. And while I probably won’t be buying headcheese any time soon, I’m excited to see what Chef Regan has up her non-chef’s-whites sleeves next season.
Shop Chef Iliana Regan's tasting-menu experience at Elizabeth Restaurant:
Watch her explain her approach to fine dining:
As useful as WD40 and much more edible, coconut oil is a powerhouse. In fact, just one jar of the stuff can replace several household staples, from kitchen ingredients to baby wipes. Here’s how to substitute it for 16 total items in 3 rooms of the home:
1. Coffee: Coconut oil is a reputed energy booster. Swallowing a spoonful or two in the afternoon can be a healthful alternative to a cuppa.2. Coffee creamer: Emulsified and poured into coffee, it’s much tastier than (and probably just as nutritious as) that bulletproof stuff.3. Butter or oil (when sautéing): Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for cooking on the stovetop, especially at high heat. Try swapping it in when making stir-fries, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, especially if you like a very mild coconut flavor.4. Oil (when baking): The oil imparts a delicious je ne sais quoi to baked goods—even boxed ones. Use it to give from-the-box brownies an upgrade, and you’ll dream about them for days.5. Condiments: Drop it into quinoa or oatmeal for added nutrients and healthy fats. You can also put it on top of sweet potatoes instead of butter!
6. Moisturizer: It works on your body and your face. It’s naturally SPF 4, so it offers a bit of protection from UV rays, too.7. Leave-in conditioner and anti-static agent: Rub a small amount between your hands and smooth them over your hair to control flyaways.8. Lip balm: It soothes sore, chapped lips, and other skin irritations.9. Eye-makeup remover: Rub it between your fingers until it liquefies, smear it on your lids, and wipe it off with a cotton pad.10. Face wash: Add a little water and rub it in your hands until it foams.11. Hand and foot cream: Massage it into cracked knuckles, or slather it onto your soles and stick them into socks for an overnight soak.12. Shaving cream: It’ll give you a smooth shave, plus additional moisture for your skin.
13. Ouchie ointment: Dab it on cuts and scrapes, which will benefit from its antimicrobial properties.14. Anti-itch cream: Coconut oil reduces itching from bug bites, and helps to calm sunburn, eczema, and cradle cap.15. Diaper cream: A layer on baby’s bottom guards against (and soothes) diaper rash flare-ups.16. Baby wipes: Simply mix it with hot water and pour it over a stack of paper towels that you’ve cut in half. Keep the towels in an airtight container so they stay moist.
Check out more coconut-oil coverage:
Oil Pulling Whitens Your Teeth and (Maybe) Makes You Invincible
The Five Best Uses for Coconut Oil You’ve Never Heard Of